Rarely does a story touch so many lives on social media as the story of Reiver, a dark bay 16-hand mare and Ricky Fenwick, an Army veteran… theirs is a story of friendship, loyalty and proof – if ever it were needed – of the healing power of horses.
Hundreds of people from all over the country were outraged when Reiver was taken from her field by heartless thieves, and mourned with Ricky when she was found days later dead in a ditch.
Ricky, (47) who lives in Chester- le- Street, County Durham, was left heartbroken by the death of his treasured war horse, who helped him heal from his post traumatic stress disorder. He made an impassioned appeal for help in recovering his highly-trained mare Reiver, who led the Queen’s Bays re-enactment group on tours across the UK and Europe. And his appeal touched animal lovers everywhere who offered help and support.
Ricky, who runs the reenactment group, said: “I am absolutely heartbroken. I suffer from PTSD and Reiver changed my life. She made me the man I am now. I have had her for two-and-half years and trained her from the outset. When we got her she was wild horse and she became the best in the troop. Now she is gone and everybody is devastated. It feels like most of me has been stripped away.“
Mr Fenwick, served for ten years with The Life Guards, which is part of the Household Cavalry. The former lance corporal was on active tour in Bosnia in the late 90s, when his armoured vehicle was blown up by a landmine. While he was not wounded others were and the traumatic incident left him suffering from PTSD. He said: “I was on the scrap heap. The people I was with were nervous of me and I was asked to do something about it and see a horse therapist.”
Reiver proved to be his salvation.
Ricky explained: “I took the horse therapy course. It was like the Guinness advert, where the guy rescues the horse from the abattoir and says he says “I don’t know if I rescued the horse or the horse rescued me“. It is recognised that horses can help with healing in so many ways. Reiver was one of those horses you could put a two-year-old with, and she would understand what she had to do. If it was somebody in wheelchair she would lower her head. She was a very compassionate horse and also a training tool for others. We have travelled all over the UK and Europe doing First World War re-enactments, and we also encourage other veterans with PTSD to join us.”
He has been offered support from The Household Cavalry Foundation which he’s been grateful for and the local community have compassionate and kind. And acclaimed local poet, Arthur Cole wrote two poems which Ricky says sum up his feelings about Reiver and his sad loss.
My name is ‘REIVER’, I’m an Irish dark bay
a modern day war horse, is how I’m portrayed.
Seven years old, with a compassionate nature,
I was roaming free, with a secure bright future.
With my veteran master, I travelled the world,
an unbreakable bond, so richly deserved.
To conquer his demons, I’ve played my part,
as my reward, he’s gifted all of his heart.
For nearly three years, supporting each other,
bringing much solace, like sister and brother.
Re-enacting carnage, where brave horses fell,
whilst pulling canon, in wars made in hell.
Ricky’s my master, I’m missing him dearly,
I know for a fact, he’ll be stressing severely.
He will search high and low, that is a fact,
to bring me safely home, from where I’m entrapped.
I know not where I am, or how far from home,
feeling for my master, a black cloud of gloom.
To be re-united, is what we both pray for,
so please play a part, becoming our saviours.
Arthur Cole..2020. All Copyright Reserved.
Written whilst missing.
And he wrote this for Ricky the day after she was found –
‘EULOGY FOR REIVER’
Words cannot explain, what I’m going through,
my rock, my salvation, demons you subdued.
From the first day we met, you lit up my life,
a compassionate soul mate, relieving my strife.
For nearly four years, we stood side by side,
you were my proud bay, I so loved to ride.
On foreign battlefields, we re-enacted as one,
a spirit so strong, a war horse second to none.
My nerves you unravelled, giving me hope,
an influence calming, allowing me to cope.
Nightmares of the past, you slowly subdued.
put my life back on track, your loyalty guided.
The day you went missing, left me bereft,
heartache overcame me, to this I attest.
I searched high and low, to no avail,
praying to God, your life would prevail.
It fell on deaf ears, it was never to be,
death it became you, your spirit set free.
When you were taken, my world fell apart,
our memories still vivid, a sad heavy heart.
Arthur Cole..2020..All Copyright Reserved.
A JustGiving page has been set up to help raise funds for Mr Fenwick to overcome his loss of his good friend Reiver which can be found here …